The Prodigal Dad: 1929-2011

My Dad passed away 2 months ago, from cancer. 

I know Dad was proud of the musical activity of all his children, although as far as I know not much of my personal creativity appealed to him. However I do know that every CD of our music that I burned and gave him was in his CD rack.

There are many treasured memories to choose from, but one in particular might be appropriate for this forum: Many years ago, I was living at home, and I raided Dad's toolbox for a pair of wire cutters to trim the ends off the new strings on my guitar. Of course, the hard strings notched the gentle wire cutters, and of course, Dad noticed.

Instead of getting angry, he went out to the garage and came back with a newish looking pair of Knipex wire cutters, handed them to me and said, "This is the right tool for the job".

I've used this pair to trim my guitar strings ever since. (no sign of notching, yet.)

 

In September I travelled to see Dad when he was in hospital. I played him an unfinished version of a track i was working on, which did not have a title, and I think he appreciated it. It's hard to tell with Dad sometimes.

Inevitable, this piece is now associated with Dad and therefore it now has a title, "A Sample of One", which I will not explain here. This month I completed the track, recording the acoustic guitar using one of Dad's Zoom H2 units.

Painting Abstracts On Location


[mp3:http://spacefold.com/colin/ps/mp3/Abstracts/painting_abstracts_hifi.mp3] 192kbps MP3

Notes

Chorus in 7/8 time, verses in 4/4. Pulsing guitars, sustaining keyboards, offbeat bassline, jazzy middle section. Walter and I collaborated on the chorus lyrics, which are perhaps a little too busy. In the last couple of years I threw out the mediocre verses and replaced them with new ones that actually told a real story. Much improved.

I am very proud of the jazzy piano in the middle section, it took a lot of practice. Walter could have played something more interesting in just a few takes, I expect, but he wasn't around to do that.

Instruments

Lyrics

Across the room I saw your face
You caught my eye with a hesitant smile
I took you home, showed you the place
I remember your words, you said:

   I'm painting abstracts, on location
   faking a picture and signing my name
   Painting Abstracts, no salvation
   from the painful pictures that collect in my brain

   Painting Abstracts, my creation
   is the one way I know, and it's never the same
   Painting Abstracts, one solution
   is disolving the memories, and forgetting the shame

Under your sleeve I saw the scars
You told the truth and not the usual lie
a secret wrapped inside the past
a line was drawn, I turned and looked away

Across the years, I lost a friend
Not suicide, but a stupid disease
I should have seen you at the end
Regret is a stone, in my head

   We're painting abstracts, on location
   ignoring reality and enduring the pain
   Painting Abstracts, on probation but 
   we're robbing the bank to keep playing the game 

   Painting Abstracts, our protection is
   the color's so vivid we don't have to explain
   Painting Abstracts, on location
   we're taking a remedy, that is keeping us sane. 

music & lyrics © 1990/2011 Colin Nicholls & Walter Nicholls

From the archives: Early Stages

(These tracks have been taken from a series of very old cassette tapes on which we used to record all our ideas, many years ago.)  

The first relic features a Roland Jupiter 6 and Korg Polysix. I don't own the Jupiter anymore (stupid, stupid...) but I think Walter has the Polysix in working order still. The second relic demonstrates the power of the Korg M1 sequencer, if not the talents of the guitar player... for dedicated fans only, I'm afraid. The chord sequence of the middle section is the same, yet completely different.

Coming up with the riffs (1989)
[mp3:http://spacefold.com/colin/ps/mp3/Abstracts/early_stages_1989.mp3]

Taking Shape (1989):
[mp3:http://spacefold.com/colin/ps/mp3/Abstracts/early_stages_Nov1989.mp3]

 

A Sample of One


[mp3:http://spacefold.com/colin/ps/mp3/Sample_Of_One/A_Sample_Of_One_hifi.mp3] 192kbps MP3

Notes:

This little instrumental was hiding inside my Yamaha nylon-string guitar in 1989, and took shape in 1990 when the relatively new Korg M1 sequencer allowed us to throw some strings, drums, and acoustic bass at it.

For the longest time this piece was "Untitled" but recently one seems to have become appropriate.

Finally last year I re-recorded this track, but I was having trouble settling on which guitar to use. I couldn't record a version that had the same quality of sound that the original demo had. 

Most recently I completed the track this month, using my Ovation Balladeer, recorded using a Zoom H2 portable recorder as a stereo feed into my computer. 

Instruments:

music © 1990 Colin Nicholls

January Update

I had some family stuff to deal with over the last couple of months, but I've been enjoying the new A-80 keyboard. A very comfortable play.

I've completed the tracking on Painting Abstracts some months ago, and moved on to finishing up Untitled (which now has a title - more later) and Solo Flight, which is turning out to be pretty epic.

I feel like I'm on target for an August 2012 completion of volume 1.